Hatred stirs up strifes; But love covers all transgressions. (Proverbs 10:12).
Isn’t this a great verse to throw at anyone who dares to expose heretics and their false teachings? A dear sister of mine in the Lord with whom I attended many Bible studies for nearly twenty five years, recently told me that I should rather show forth love, compassion and affection for some of my closest family members who have fallen prey to the doctrines of demons in stead of warning them against their heresies and to come out from among those who are leading them astray. Her main reason for following the “love-route” instead of the “exhortation” or “rebuke-route” was that I would cause a rift between myself and my closest kin. Anyone who loves the Lord and his command to “. . . earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 1:3), will inadvertently prepare the way for a rift. Please note that I deliberately said “inadvertently prepare the way for a rift” because the rift is not caused by the saint himself but by Jesus Christ.
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53).
The word for “division” in the Greek is “diamerismos” which in this case refers to the breaking up or putting asunder of family ties. Jesus evidently places a much higher price on truth than relationships, even family relationships, not that family ties are of no importance. However, when truth is sacrificed on the altars of relationships it proves that those who elevate “love” above the command to earnestly contend for the faith are, perhaps unknowingly, exalting their love for friends and family over and above their love for the Lord who bought them. You may say: How dare I say something so absurd. Allow me to remind you what Jesus said to Peter when He thrice asked him whether he loved Him.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17).
Love your brothers and sisters and your neighbours!
Your love for Jesus is inexorably mirrored in your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and of course your neighbours. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20). Nonetheless, it is inappropriate and even unbiblical to dislodge your love for your brothers and sisters from your duty to warn them against false teachers and their heresies? Jesus distinctly commanded Peter to feed his lambs (with His undiluted truth), tend his sheep (with His undiluted truth) and feed his sheep (with His undiluted truth) to prove that he loved Him. How do I know that his TRUTH was to be the nourishment for his lambs and sheep? He himself said so four chapters earlier in John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” The children of God should strive to live in peace with all men, even those who persecute them, but the most important thing is the sanctification of the saints which can be achieved only by and through his Truth, his Word (Hebrews 12:14). He said so himself and we ought to honour his own reverence for his Word (Ps. 138:1, 2). If holiness (sanctification) is an indispensable prerequisite to see God, it follows that his Word (his Truth) and its proclamation in love should take precedence over our relationships, the reason being that it’s not our relationships that save souls from death but the Truth in God’s Word.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
What kind of love are we talking about when saints are prepared to allow their deceived and wayward brethren to continue on their path to spiritual emptiness and destruction for the sake of harmony, unity, love and good relationships? Paul once said:
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (Corinthians 11:18-19)
This ties in perfectly with what God said in Deuteronomy 13 verses 1 to 3:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
God actually allows heresies to come amongst his saints to test their love for Him? Really? What a strange way to test the saints’ love for Him, you may say. Isn’t it enough to say “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Yes indeed, Jesus knows everything and yet he wants you to prove your love for Him. “OK, you love Me and I know it but now you must prove it by feeding my lambs, tending my sheep and feeding my sheep.” “But Lord that’s the task of our pastors, youth leaders, elders and deacons.” “NO! mother, it is your duty to feed your offspring with the right spiritual nourishment in my Word (2 Timothy 1:4, 5). And father, it is your duty to oversee the entire process of nourishment for your entire family, including your wife (Ephesians 5:25-28).
What love is this?
Even unbelievers do everything in their power to warn their wayward kids who are on drugs and if necessary even summon the police to arrest and take them to a safe haven where they may be treated for their addiction. Spiritual deception is much worse than drug abuse as we’ve seen from the portion in James. And yet Christians seem to be less concerned about their brethren who have been deceived and strayed from the truth than the unbelievers whose kids are hooked on addictive drugs. The Christian would probably say: “I love my little boy or girl too much to confront him or her and openly rebuke them for their drug abuse. I really don’t want to cause a rift between myself and them.” Wow! That’s a very strange kind of love. Solomon, the wisest among men said:
Open rebuke is better than secret love. (Proverbs 27:5)
“Secret love” is love that never shows itself or reveals itself in this one way of rebuking faults. Rebuke, whether from friend or foe, is better than such love. Paul, the greatest missionary who ever lived, must have been a real “rift-builder” because he openly rebuked his brother in Christ when he did not live according to the demands of Jesus Christ. His love was certainly not a secret or hidden love but genuine love that openly rebuked those who had fallen into error and as a consequence led others to fall as well.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14).
Christians who allow themselves to fall into error very soon lead others into error. Their deception has a domino effect on others who listen to and heed their false teachings. It becomes a cancer that kills unless it is nipped in the bud. We should bear in mind that Jesus Christ commanded Peter to feed his lambs and to tend and feed his sheep, meaning that Peter’s love for Him should be expressed in his duty to protect God’s sheep, not only the adult Christians but also the little ones who believe in Him. If Christians who fail to warn their closest of kin when they are deceived by all kinds of abominable lies, they will inevitably lead their own offspring into all kinds of lies and deceptions. And what does Jesus say about parents who lead their own offspring into error.
. . . whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Matthew 18:6-7).
The sea is a metaphor for God’s gracious forgiveness of sins when the sinner repents and turns to God for salvation.
He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)
Those who deceive the little lambs who believe in Jesus should be cast into the sea where God casts the sins of repentant sinners.
You may argue that Matthew 18:6-7 does not specifically refer to false teachings and deception but to sin in general. That may be true but then again, as we’ve seen from James 5:19-20, deception is a sin that condemns to death the soul who wanders from the truth. Do we realize how serious and dangerous it is to wander from the truth? I think not because some Christians are prepared to overlook the deception their own kin may have fallen into for the sake of love, unity, harmony and good relationships. John highlights the profound seriousness of the matter when he says:
Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son (2 John 9 From the “Amplified Bible).
Sound doctrine is central to true salvation. Anyone who does not remain grounded in the core doctrines of Jesus Christ is not saved. This alone should constrain all who love the Lord and his Word, “[To] Preach the word; [to] be instant in season, out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering AND DOCTRINE. For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
This abominable process of heaping to themselves teachers who are too happy to tickle their itching ears is escalating at an alarming rate, even among so-called evangelicals and brethren with whom you may have had sweet fellowship at Bible studies for many years.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6)
Their kisses usually turn out to be hisses of the serpent.
Love Covers All Transgressions